Posted: 5/17/2011Provided by Citysearch -
Paul Q. Houston, TX 3.0 star rating 5/17/2011 The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Greater Houston is a peer support group for people with Depression or Bipolar Disorder. The anecdotal accounts of individual struggles and successes with mood disorders are the most powerful ameliorative therapy outside of medication. The Houston branch is the local chapter of the national organization in Chicago. The national headquarters sets guidelines for local chapters but there is wide latitude across the country in conformity to those guidelines. The knowledge that EVERYONE in the group has the mental illness of a mood disorder and is not in a superior position to judge or criticize one's behavior, and, most importantly, KNOWS personally exactly about what one is speaking when describing one's experiences with mood disorders is essential for the group's success. This requirement is the catalyst in getting participants to open up. Unfortunately, Houston has taken a corporatist approach to structuring it's groups, allowing (requiring?) Facilitators who moderate the groups to have professional credentials WITHOUT having the disorder. In a properly functioning group, NO ONE who does not have the disorder would be permitted to attend, least of all the Facilitator, (an exception is made for spouses or friends attending in support of an afflicted individual.) Mental health care professionals would be BARRED unless attending as sufferers of the disorder. The Houston chapter also controls all the meetings throughout Houston and its suburbs from the central office without feedback from participants. Group participants have no say about how anything is done. The result is that discussion is repressed both by the presence of an unafflicted health care professional and the enfeebling of self-assertion by a patronizing central office. This approach also confounds any aspect of sociability within the groups. If folks are all getting together to discuss a problem mutually shared, supportive social ties are likely to develop. It they are convening as subjects of a therapist, that doesn't happen. Houston has forgotten that the most important descriptive adjective for a DBSA group is PEER. It is hard to believe that the local chapter doesn't realize how its structuring has sabotaged the central purpose of the DBSA, but apparently it is ignorant. Nevertheless, despite the deficiencies imposed by the Houston organization, local DBSA groups are still a valuable tool in stabilizing victims with mood disorders, even if but a pale shadow of their potential.